Some eleven years ago when we bought our house, one of the things that really appealed to us was its garden. It’s on a corner lot, not too big, but in summer it is lush and green and we love it.
To some it may appear a bit overgrown: our grass is never mowed to perfection, neither are the shrubs neatly cut all at the same height.
Truth be told, the garden does look like an explosion of greenery; you can barely see the house behind all the bushes and the trees! But we enjoy this more natural look.
We never used any herbicides or synthetic fertilizers either. Everything that grows there grows clean and by itself.
As a bonus, our garden attracts bees, bumblebees, butterflies, fireflies, lots of birds, squirrels, and sometimes a bunny. On rare occasions we have also sighted a raccoon and a skunk by night, but never had any troubles with them.
The Only Issue
The only issue I have is that, while I had always dreamed of growing at least some food myself, this idyllic place is not at all suited for vegetable gardening.
Besides the lot being uneven and too small, it is also very shady. Of course in summer this is a true blessing – for us. But for vegetables, not so much. Also take into account the Canadian climate with its very short warm season, and you don’t stand a chance of growing anything (unless you plant the veggies in a greenhouse with artificial lighting).
Basil and Lovage
I’m telling this from experience. Along the years I have tried planting all kinds of edibles: parsley, dill, lovage, radishes, beans, tomatoes, raspberries… but nothing thrived. Only part of the raspberry bushes are still somewhat alive.
I searched the internet and learned that vegetables need a good few hours of sun per day. We don’t have that. And I wasn’t planning on felling the nice trees just to grow some parsley.
Then this year, while sitting outside on a warm afternoon, I noticed a spot that was bathed in sunlight for several hours. Yay, sun! Should I… try my not-so-green thumb once again?
I told my husband that I’d like to put a small herb and vegetable garden in that spot. And that, this time, I wanted to do it properly.
1. We should erect a raised bed, fill it with good soil, plant the seedlings at the recommended distance, water them, watch them for diseases and support them with props or trellis once they grow tall and (hopefully) bear fruit.
He was a bit skeptical at first, but actually came to like the idea. The discussion moved on from whether we should set it up, to how we would build it and what materials we could use.
2. I also wanted it to look esthetically pleasing (okay, I’m an artist at heart).
A week before we had been to visit some friends, and they had proudly shown us their Costco-bought raised garden – a white 4 by 4’ plastic box that had cost about $60. It fitted quite well in their backyard; but in our garden such modern, rectangular structure would surely clash with the scenery. We wanted a style that integrates nicely in the landscape – and preferably something less expensive, too.
Preparing the Terrain
My husband proposed to build a frame with some old bricks that had been lying in the garage for years. It was my turn to be skeptical; I wasn’t sure how that would look.
Cleaning and Aligning the Bricks
But when, two weekends ago, we built the raised bed garden, we were quite happy with the outcome: it looks very nice, and it cost us nothing but a bit of work.
The Frame is Ready!
Last weekend I bought seedlings and planted them:
parsley, dill, mint, lovage, cherry tomatoes and two jalapenos (my hubby’s order). I also planted some garlic cloves in the hope to grow green garlic. We love it but cannot find it here in grocery stores. I was thinking of some sugar peas too, though there isn’t much space left.
The Freshly Planted Garden
Nowadays our newest occupation is checking on the plants and watering them early in the morning or in the evening if the soil feels dry. They’re looking good and strong so far.
Only the dill leaves were a bit limp, so I supported them with coffee cup sleeves – with a Canadian connotation. J
Tim Hortons to the Rescue
We already have a tiny jalapeno, about half an inch long. Isn’t it cute?
I’m looking forward to the cherry tomatoes, and to picking fresh mint leaves from the garden for our next mojito!
It feels good to have a garden, no matter how small.
I have always liked writing but, being a mother of two and working full-time, it's not easy to find time for my hobbies.
I love nature and I'm committed to healthy cooking and clean, environment-friendly living. Oh, and I love coffee.